King Lear
Background on King Lear: King Leir the Play: Scene 6

Gonorill and Ragan wonder about Cordella’s absence, but gloat at having helped her fall, as they are both insanely jealous of her beauty.  A sexual joke ensues, on parsons and nothing.  They espy the arrival of Cambria and Cornwall.  Leir comes in, determined in his course, having sent letters of marriage contract to the two. They arrive early.  They are unctuous, first to Leir, then to their respected betrothed, with some inappropriate classical allusions to Hero and Leander and Dido (no good outcomes, there), and the two daughters give poetic, flattering replies.  Anticipating nuptials, Leir divides his kingdom, then declares his intention to move in with Gonorill, on his prayers and beads.  Perillus intervenes on behalf of Cordella, but Leir rebukes him and declares her banished from the family.  In a monologue, Perillus calls Leir blind to his own approaching misery, and pledges all his heart to help Cordella.

Scene 5 . . . Directory . . . Scene 7

Scene 6

Enter Gonorill and Ragan.

GONORILL: Sister, when did you see Cordella last,
That pretty piece, that thinks none good enough
To speak to her, because (sir-reverence)
She hath a little beauty extraordinary?

RAGAN: Since time my father warned her from his presence,
I never saw her, that I can remember.
God give her joy of her surpassing beauty;
I think her dowry will be small enough.

GONORILL: I have incensed my father so against her,
As he will never be reclaimed again. … [6.10]

RAGAN: I was not much behind to do the like.

GONORILL: Faith, sister, what moves you to bear her such good will?

RAGAN: In truth, I think, the same that moveth you;
Because she doth surpass us both in beauty.

GONORILL: Beshrew your fingers, how right you can guess:
I told you true, it cuts me to the heart.

RAGAN: But we will keep her low enough, I warrant,
And clip her wings for mounting up too high.

GONORILL: Whoever hath her, shall have a rich marriage of her.

RAGAN: She were right fit to make a Parson’s wife: … [6.20]
For they, men say, do love fair women well,
And many times do marry them with nothing.

GONORILL: With nothing! marry God forbid: why, are there any such?

RAGAN: I mean, no money.

GONORILL: I cry you mercy, I mistook you much:
And she is far too stately for the Church;
She’ll lay her husbands Benefice on her back,
Even in one gown, if she may have her will.

RAGAN: In faith, poor soul, I pity her a little.
Would she were less fair, or more fortunate. … [6.30]
Well, I think long until I see my Morgan,
The gallant Prince of Cambria, here arrive.

GONORILL: And so do I, until the Cornwall King
Present himself, to consumate my joys.
Peace, here cometh my father.

Enter Leir, Perillus and others.

LEIR: Cease, good my Lords, and sue not to reverse
Our censure, which is now irrevocable.
We have dispatched letters of contract
Unto the Kings of Cambria and of Cornwall;
Our hand and seal will justify no less: … [6.40]
Then do not so dishonor me, my Lords,
As to make shipwreck of our kingly word.
I am as kind as is the Pelican,
That kills itself, to save her young ones’ lives:
And yet as jealous as the princely Eagle,
That kills her young ones, if they do but dazzle
Upon the radiant splendor of the Sun.
Within this two days I expect their coming.

Enter Kings of Cornwall and Cambria.

But in good time, they are arrived already.
This haste of yours, my Lords, doth testify … [6.50]
The fervent love your bear unto my daughters:
And think yourselves as welcome to King Leir,
As ever Priam’s children were to him.

CORNWALL: My gracious Lord, and father too, I hope,
Pardon, for that I made no greater haste:
But were my horse as swift as was my will,
I long ere this had seen your Majesty.

CAMBRIA: No other scuse of absence can I frame,
Than what my brother hath informed your Grace:
For our undeserved welcome, we do vow, … [6.60]
Perpetually to rest at your command.

CORNWALL: But you, sweet Love, illustrious Gonorill,
The Regent, and the Sovereign of my soul,
Is Cornwall welcome to your Excellency?

GONORILL: As welcome as Leander was to Hero,
Or brave Aeneas to the Carthage Queen:
So and more welcome is your Grace to me.

CAMBRIA: O, may my fortune prove no worse than his,
Since heavens do know, my fancy is as much,
Dear Ragan, say, if welcome unto thee, … [6.70]
All welcomes else will little comfort me.

RAGAN: As gold is welcome to the covetous eye,
As sleep is welcome to the Traveler,
As is fresh water to sea-beaten men,
Or moistened showers unto the parched ground,
Or anything more welcomer than this,
So and more welcome lovely Morgan is.

LEIR: What resteth then, but that we consumate
The celebration of these nuptial Rites?
My Kingdom I do equally divide. … [6.80]
Princes, draw lots, and take your chance as falls.

Then they draw lots.

These I resign as freely unto you,
As erst by true succession they were mine.
And here I do freely dispossess myself,
And make you two my true-adopted heirs:
Myself will sojourn with my son of Cornwall,
And take me to my prayers and my beads.
I know, my daughter Ragan will be sorry,
Because I do not spend my days with her:
Would I were able to be with both at once; … [6.90]
They are the kindest Girls in Christendom,

PERILLUS: I have been silent all this while, my Lord,
To see if any worthier than myself,
Would once have spoke in poor Cordella’s cause:
But love or fear ties silence to their tongues.
Oh, hear me speak for her, my gracious Lord,
Whose deeds have not deserved this ruthless doom,
As thus to disinherit her of all.

LEIR: Urge this no more, and if thou love thy life:
I say, she is no daughter, that doth scorn … [6.100]
To tell her father how she loveth him.
Who ever speaketh hereof to me again,
I will esteem him for my mortal foe.
Come, let us in, to celebrate with joy,
The happy Nuptials of these lovely pairs.

Exit omnes. Manet Perillus.

PERILLUS: Ah, who so blind, as they that will not see
The near approach of their own misery?
Poor Lady, I extremely pity her:
And whilst I live, each drop of my heart-blood
Will I strain forth, to do her any good.    Exit.… [6.110]

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